VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – Here’s what you need to know about the BC Green Party ahead of the polls closing on Saturday:
Three years after their best showing in a provincial election, many eyes are on the BC Green Party to see if it can keep the momentum going.
In 2017, the party won a record three seats in the Legislature and held the balance of power. It was only thanks to the Greens that the NDP’s John Horgan was able to become premier as the two parties signed a Confidence and Supply Agreement.
But since then, the party has lost long-time leader Andrew Weaver, who is not seeking re-election in the riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head — and new leader Sonia Furstenau has only been in the top job since September.
“The biggest uncertainty in this election in terms of the three parties, is what’s going to happen to the BC Greens,” says Max Cameron, political science professor at UBC.
“You need a lot of votes to win any seats at all. In the last election, they won almost 17 per cent of the vote and they barely got three seats. Now, their percentage of the vote looks, from the most recent polls, maybe slightly below that and it’s possible that a small margin of decline could have very significant implications for whether they are able to hold those seats.”
Cameron says the ridings to watch are the ones the Greens won in the last provincial election: Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Cowichan Valley (Furstenau’s riding), and Saanich North and the Islands (help by Adam Olsen, who was interim leader of the Greens when Weaver stepped down).
“Of course the Oak Bay riding is going to be very competitive. The NDP has put forward a strong candidate there, clearly seeking to win that seat back,” says Cameron.
“Getting people to know their candidate is a big deal. I think that the debate helped Sonia Furstenau, she was very impressive and I suspect that the more people get to know her, the more they’re going to like her. However, the bottom line for her — and this is reflective in how she’s focused her attention during this campaign — is she has to hold her seat.”
Allan Tupper, who also teaches political science at UBC, agrees Furstenau’s strong showing in the debate — and on the campaign trail — helps the party.
“We don’t know how they’ll do. Certainly the new leader, Ms. Furstenau, performed very well in the campaign. She was widely praised for role in the debate, for the things she did in the campaign, for the stability she seemed to bring to the party and all that sort of stuff,” Tupper says.
“I don’t think they’re weakened deeply by Weaver being gone and her being in there,” he adds.
While Tupper says many don’t seem to think the Greens have a large chance of gaining more seats this election, he thinks the party will remain a force, like it was after the last election.
The Greens got official party status after the 2017 election, which they may lose after this election if they don’t win at least two seats.